NYU Black Renaissance Noire NYU Black Renaissance Noire Volume 16.2: Fall 2016 - Page 28

But that did not mean he could not experience in the New World the same domestic bliss he was experiencing now —
“ What God denies men of , men of wealth can buy for themselves —,” she said , kissing him lightly on the cheek while giving his hand a reassuring squeeze .
“ And though to pay me for my silence , you have been so kind as to give me half of your ill-gained riches , you are still a man of considerable wealth , and when you arrive in the New World , you will see that domestic bliss can indeed be bought !”
And then finally and irrevocably , the day came for the young violinist and his Ethiopian benefactress to say their farewells —
On September 14th of that year , the young baron — for such was his title on the ship ’ s manifest — set sail for the United States aboard the brand new Yankee clipper , the Philadelphia Triumph , which was on its maiden voyage —
Madam Maloka , Mustafa and the old crone stood on the dock waving handkerchiefs , and as tears welled up in their eyes and the sleek gray vessel began to rise with the tide and a shifting breeze began to puff out the sails and cause the proud new red white and blue flag to flap bravely against the gray-edged autumn clouds , the baron wept for , at least for the moment , he was safe and secure in his new status and identity , and he continued waving to the tiny receding figures on the fog-shrouded German shore until they were so tiny they could no longer be seen , and for the first time since childhood , he muttered an almost forgotten Hassidic prayer —
A month and twelve days later , the Philadelphia Triumph dropped anchor in a war-weary but nonetheless boisterous and boastful New Orleans , where , as soon as the French and American port authorities allowed him to disembark , but before he retrieved his trunks and could make inquiries as to a suitable place to live , he hired a luxurious cab , complete with two Negro footmen who had unkindly mocked his German accent , and had himself driven posthaste to the slave market , which on that date was still located in the old quarter of the rapidly growing city , and where with the hope of experiencing again the domestic bliss the Ethiopian woman had taught him could be bought , he paid a handsome price for a comely slave woman in her mid-thirties and her eleven-year-old son whose name he promptly changed from Cato to Comus , in loving memory of the smiling , eyeball-rolling blackamoor who had presided as King of the Revels atop a dazzling float in the first and only carnival procession of fools he was to see in Europe and which , as with measured gaiety the carnival parade passed by a crack in the wall that enclosed and circumscribed his stunted Polish childhood , he was never ever to forget . n
Printed with permission from James Demby .